The standards of Sri Lanka cricket have never been as bad as they are at the moment. In ODIs since January 2018, they are the only team to have an overall batting average of 24.61. To add insult to the injury, the Lankans lose a wicket every 28.75 balls and is the only side to score less than five ODI centuries in comparison to the other teams participating in this World Cup.
In their opening game of the mega event against New Zealand, the Dimuth Karunaratne-led team suffered a crushing 10-wicket loss and bagged a huge embarrassment. Ahead of their second game against Afghanistan scheduled to take place later in the day, the Lankan batting coach Ben Lewis wants the batsmen to take up the responsibility.
Lewis revealed that a player batting for 100 balls is the biggest need of the hour for Sri Lanka. He noted that if the skipper Karunaratne gets a hundred in 120 balls, it will actually do the job for the rest of the batters to play around him. He stated that the likes of Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera and Angelo Mathews have massive abilities and they need to execute it better.
“A player batting 100 balls. Look, if Dimuth scores a hundred, he'll probably do it in 120 balls. His first half will be slow but I think he'll get there in 120 balls. That's manageable for us. That's fine. Because Thiri [Lahiru Thirimanne] will be slightly different, then we have Kusal [Perera] who will probably go better than a Strike Rate of 100 if he gets to 70-80. The problem is not the strike rate for us. The problem is we are not playing enough big enough innings at the top of the order. I was just getting the stats guy to tell me when the last ODI innings that lasted a 100 balls was. We are going back quite a long way... possibly August last year when Angelo [Mathews] got 70 odd,” quoted Ben Lewis.
“We got two rapid 100s in New Zealand - Kusal got one and Thisara got another big one. Two exceptional innings but you want your top 4-5 batsmen to bat 100-ball innings and allow us to structure a 50-over innings which allow us to use the strengths that we have, which people like Thisara [Perera], Isuru Udana later on (can capitalise on). If they've got a foundation, they can do some damage. But we're not giving them a foundation. It's been a perpetual theme for but it's the right message. We need to execute this better. The players need to do better,” he added.
While speaking about the New Zealand loss, Ben Lewis said, “I thought we started well against New Zealand. After eight overs we were ahead. At the start of the game, I thought: 'Geez this could be really tough'. [Trent] Boult at his best is a handful on any pitch. We lost a Thirimanne early on and that can happen. But then we did well. If we come out of powerplay 1 for 50, then I'm thinking 'tick'. We got the first bit done and then threw it away. I honestly think if we get into the 30 overs mark where we are maybe three down, we can score heavily in the last 20. It wasn't a bad pitch once the ball went soft. We didn't have the foundation and we were struggling.”